Yesterday, A.J. Burnett told reporters that he plans to cut down on his walks in 2010, after issuing 97 of them a season ago. “I would like to not walk as many people, go a little deeper in the games and be a little more efficient like [CC] is,” noted Burnett. “He’s real efficient with his pitches. He’s 12-15 an inning as opposed to 20-25 an inning, and it helps. Being more efficient in strike one, and just not give away free bags. Let them earn their bases.” Not only was Burnett’s 4.22 BB/9 the second highest mark of his career when tossing 100 or more innings in a season, it was also the highest mark he had posted in eight years (he walked 4.31 per nine innings in 2001). Basically, the base-on-balls was a significant problem for the tattooed right-hander in 2009, as nearly 11% of his at-bats resulted in a free pass.
While it is difficult to explain the uptick in Burnett’s walk rate last season – his career rate is 3.78 – there are some factors to consider that might shed a bit of light on the issue. First, in the first year of his contract with New York, Burnett dealt with some mechanical flaws in his delivery, which likely caused many of his command problems. He was also dealing with a series of complex contextual elements, such as working with a new catcher, moving to a new area, joining a new team, playing in a new ballpark, and so on and so forth. For instance, at one point last season, Burnett admitted to trying to throw harder as the fans in Yankee Stadium cheered louder, which consequently hurt his ability to locate pitches effectively. These things, in tandem, likely contributed to Burnett’s particularly wild year.
If the 33-year old hopes to improve upon his 2009 campaign, slowing his walk rate would be a very good start.
Photo by the AP
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